By Samuel Oyadongha,
Yenagoa—Four soldiers, yesterday, drowned in the Atlantic fringe of Brass in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, when their boat capsized.
The soldiers, it was learned, were part of the operatives deployed in the area for the military operations known as Operation Crocodile Smile.
Also missing were their service rifles.
Meanwhile, at press time, it was gathered that two corpses of the soldiers and their rifles had been recovered, according to a community source.
According to the source, search was ongoing in the area for the other missing personnel.
Vanguard gathered that the incident occurred in the early hours of the day on the Brass River some distance away from the Brass waterfront.
According to the community source, occupants of the ill-fated boat were all military personnel. While six soldiers were rescued, four were missing.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said attempts by community youths and other soldiers to assist in a rescue operation failed as the soldiers could not be found due to high tide.
He said about six truck-load of soldiers were, last week, sighted along the newly-completed NDDC/Shell sponsored Ogbia-Nembe Road, heading towards the ancient coastal town of Nembe in the mangrove swamp of the state en-route Brass.
The source said: “In recent times, we have been noticing increased movement of soldiers in our area. The boat that capsized was conveying a new batch of soldiers to the water front. I was going to dispose of refuse at the waterfront when I saw uniformed soldiers struggling to rescue their colleagues in the capsized boat.
“When the confusion subsided, four soldiers were found to be missing with their rifles and other military gear. Some others that were rescued lost their rifles and were struggling to get out of the water.”
It was learned that at 2p.m., military authorities sought the help of local divers and youths to assist in the search for the missing soldiers.
One of the youths said that the high tide was impeding the search for the missing soldiers.
The chairman of the state maritime workers union, Lloyd Sese, confirmed the boat mishap.
Attempt to get the comment of the Joint Military Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, on the development proved abortive as the acting Coordinator of the Joint Media Centre, Lt-Commander Thomas Otuji, could not be reached on phone.